• Community Voice - developing the project

Peace Garden Mural

The Peace Gardens Mural project, led by artist Sophie Larter, is an expression of what Dissenters Hall in all its diversity means to the local community.  

Sophie Larter


Artist, Life Model, Body Performer and Art Historian, Sophie's Life Model work forcuses on Women's experiences through the body and transformation that happens as subject and artist.  Sophie's art practice explores and responds to the natural world and humanity, a multimedia artist who combines figurative and abstract techniques.  Her recent collaborative work has centred on mural making.

"The Peace Garden is a green lung for the town developed under the auspices of our civic arboretum group with the help of local gardeners and herbalists."
Robert Crick, Trustee of the Old Meeting Unitarian Chapel, Sidmouth

The Peace Gardens Mural project, led by artist Sophie Larter, embraces the rich tradition of visual arts to express community sentiments about a unique sanctuary of safety and reflection in our intricate world. This project's focus is on what Dissenters Hall means to people as their community venue, with the aim of crafting a permanent artwork that resonates with the themes of kindness and compassion.

The Peace Garden is at the southern wall of the Unitarian church and offers a blank space and a vacant plinth in the deconsecrated Dissenters’ burial ground at the top of the High Street. The creation of a new artwork for the Peace Garden at the Dissenters Hall/Unitarian Church in Sidmouth is one of the seven elements of the Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub and Sidmouth School of Art Sidmouth Makes Art (SMArt) Project. 

Today, this community space is often overlooked but it provides refuge, safety and support and a place to run community events and clubs. The buildings and outdoor space known as “Dissenter of Sidmouth” comprises the 17th century Old Meeting House and grounds, a dance studio, a reading room and kitchen area. Together, they provide a vital community meeting place for lots of people from all walks of life. including an art club, a folk choir, dance and aerobics classes, therapeutic exercise classes, a poetry circle, U3A, East Devon’s Talking Newspaper, singing lessons, office space, and social events such as concerts, political meetings, children’s parties, fundraising events, low-cost weddings and funerals and an open weekly lunch time Oasis Café which offers a warm space and a “Keep in Touch” opportunity.

More information about the space and its function, ethos and role in the community along with more information about its history can be found here